Arewa24, Nigeria’s premier Hausa language television channel, invited ICRD’s CEO and President, James Patton, for an interview this September!
During the chat, James discussed his formative experience in the Peace Corps in Paraguay, which exposed him for the first time to issues of social justice, economic inequity, marginalization, and more. “Once you know this,” he found, “it becomes part of your sense of responsibility and duty to try to participate in helping the world be a better place.”
So began a peace-building career that has spanned over 50 countries (and counting). For those with less experience in the field or looking to get started in peacebuilding work, James offered words of advice — and caution.
“There are people who have power that results from maintaining conflict. If you threaten that, you necessarily draw their displeasure.” In these cases, peace becomes a numbers game: one must demonstrate its broad benefits across identity lines to mobilize the community and marginalize the violent elements.
The simplest approach, which ICRD champions, is to build relationships on the ground that draw on local expertise to face off challenges. “Get people to understand that they have more in common [together] than they have separating.”
One such initiative James has planned draws on forensic anthropology research in war-torn areas with an eye to the healing that faith can grant. He believes that the closure of funeral ceremonies are an important yet ignored step in the process of social reconciliation. Think burial rights, not rites.
James also shared how he has always been able to find something to connect with, on a personal human level, throughout his many travels and interactions with various communities. People’s aspirations for a better world, for themselves, their children, and their futures, is something that everyone can relate to, providing a sturdy foundation through which understanding and cohesion can develop.
Check out the video above to listen to James’s full interview!